Photo/IllutrationSouth Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1919 uprising against Japan's colonial rule in Seoul on March 1. (AP Photo)

SEOUL--South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed his hopes to work through rifts with Japan in a future-oriented manner and to reboot joint economic projects with Pyongyang during a speech March 1 marking the centennial of the 1919 uprising against Japan's colonial rule.

The remarks come a day after a summit on denuclearization in Vietnam broke down between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In the toned-down speech, while Moon stated that history should be held up "as a mirror" of current events, he did not specifically mention the recent series of court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to South Koreans who worked for them during World War II or the decision by Seoul to effectively negate a bilateral agreement to settle the issue of women forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during and after the war.

But Moon did not provide specific steps to resolve those difficult issues.

Moon did describe as "barbaric" the "massacre" by the Japanese military of Koreans who rose up on March 1, 1919, against colonial rule.

However, the South Korean president also said his nation had for too long postponed clearly dealing with the negative legacy related to Korean sympathizers of Japanese colonial rule.

At the same time, Moon said he did not want that final accounting to extend to a diplomatic conflict with a neighboring nation.

"The accounting of the negative legacy of Korean sympathizers as well as diplomacy should be pushed forward from a future-oriented perspective," Moon said.

He explained that one of the most important legacies that had to be dealt with and eliminated as soon as possible was the "antagonism between the left-wing and right-wing sectors of society" that Japan utilized during its colonial rule to divide the Korean people.

The comment may have been in reference to Moon's own policy of dealing with issues created by his presidential predecessors arising from conflicts that have often erupted between conservative and progressive political elements in South Korea.

"When we bring together our capabilities to provide healing to the pain and suffering of the victims, South Korea and Japan will become true friends with a heartfelt understanding of each other," Moon said.

His reference to victims may have been made with wartime laborers and former "comfort women" in mind.

Looking toward the future, Moon gave as a major objective for the next 100 years the establishment of a "new Korean Peninsula" that would pave the way for eventually unifying the two Koreas.

Moon said he was planning to discuss with U.S. officials the resumption of joint economic activities with Pyongyang, including the Kaesong industrial park and tourism projects for Mount Kumgang, as one way to improve relations with the North.

He also outlined a plan to create a joint economic committee to enhance economic cooperation with North Korea to prepare for the day when Pyongyang takes concrete steps toward denuclearization.

He said the recently concluded summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi realized "significant progress" and produced "important results."

"The development of South-North ties will lead to normalization of relations between the United States and North Korea as well as between Japan and North Korea," Moon said. "We will strengthen cooperation with Japan for peace on the Korean Peninsula."